Feast of the Guardian Angels: Christians celebrate messengers of God

Guardian angel watching two children cross wooden bridge

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 2: Catholics today praise messengers of God on the Feast of the Guardian Angels.

The first altars for guardian angels were set up in the 4th century. Since those early devotions, hundreds of saints, church leaders and individuals have encouraged a reverence for these angelic beings.

The first “official” observance of a day for guardian angels is debated, but devotion began with monastic tradition—in particular, St. Benedict and Bernard of Clairvaux. (Wikipedia has details.) A formal feast day was first observed in the 16th century.

While Protestants today don’t observe this holiday, Guardian Angels are described in the current Catechism of the Catholic Church: “Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life.” Drawn from the Greek word for “messenger,” an angel is viewed in Catholic teaching as a servant of God.

Angels in the lowest rank fulfill the duties of guardian angels, theorized Thomas Aquinas, and it is these angels who protect and guide humans through life on earth. Though guardian angels cannot impact a human’s free will, they can attempt guidance through a human’s senses and imagination.

Altars may not be as common for guardian angels as they once were, but many believers offer prayers. (Catholic.org has several prayers.) Care to learn more? Check out the Sermon on the Holy Guardian Angels by St. Bernard of Clairvaux, or the Meditation for the Feast of the Guardian Angels by Pope John XXIII. Meals including angel hair pasta and angel food cake pay tribute to the day’s theme. (Catholic Culture has additional ideas.)

BUZZ FROM THE VATICAN:
JESUS AS THE FIRST TWEETER?

International headlines are actively relaying news from the Vatican—from TIME to the Telegraph to CBC/Radio-Canada—that Jesus Christ used the concept of Twitter long before today’s technology took root. In fact, a Vatican cardinal even described Jesus as the world’s first Tweeter.

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi noted Jesus’ affinity for short, meaningful messages, most of which were also verbally illustrated with a story or symbol. Phrases like “Love one another” and “Convert, for the kingdom of heaven is near!” are just a few of the “tweets” pointed out by Ravasi, who began tweeting Jesus’ words shortly after his declaration. Today’s pope has 3 million followers on Twitter, and Church officials claim it mandatory for pastors to be top-notch in communication interests and abilities.